Florence Degavre / Professor

Université Catholique de Louvain / Socio-economics and Gender studies

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I was trained in Economics and Social sciences, with a focus on sustainable development. My scientific activities articulate insights from socio-economics and gender studies and aim at analyzing Third Sector organisations. Working at grassroot level made me particularly sensitive to social inequalities and social innovations capable of addressing them.
I have no car, I travel by public transports with a scooter or a foldable bike to make this choice more efficient. I fly only when train is not an option. My home is (nearly) zero waste which includes buying second-hand, shopping in bulk stores, wastesorting, composting, avoiding plastic and other toxic substances. I am flexitarian and I prioritize local and biological products. This reduced my ecological footprint but I feel frustrated that some actions only contribute to “optimizing” the system (second-hand proliferates on overconsumption) or greenwashing. Like many women, I face a huge amount of care in my family life, which adds to a very intense professional life. Zero waste is difficult to combine on a daily basis with care activities, as both are essentially (exhausting and invisible) DIY activities. This is an important drawback and to be short, I think that gender and other social inequalities are considerable lock-in’s that stand in the way of sustainable transition. I live in a building with social housing. Inhabitants come from different cultures and poor background: mandatory recycling is totally new, buying cheap (which goes along with plastic and toxic) products is a no choice… Any strategy towards sustainability will only reveal its transformation potential if integrated in a broader reflection on social inequalities. Analysis on sustainable transitions must speak from more than one point of view. My favorite feminist slogan is “The personal is political”. It reminds us that our private experience is connected with the wider structures of society, that individual or molecular change from within the system should not be considered as residual nor remain hidden. Expressing why and how we feel unsatisfied by the actual system, showing that we try to put some coherence in our daily lives between our convictions and practice, sharing little acts of resistance and how we face lock-ins at our own level is important. It lays the ground for a collective action that will hopefully sound like a wake-up call and bring some institutional opportunities for more radical transformation in the education, consumption and production system.

Originally posted 2018-06-11 03:08:59.